JUNE 30, 2008
The credits for The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde offered not one, not two, but THREE Hatchet veterans – Tony Todd (star), John Carl Buechler (director here, makeup/cameo-er on Hatchet) and Andy Garfield (music), which perhaps raised my expectations a bit. And to be fair, it’s far from a bad movie, but like many of these films, suffers greatly from a lack of resources/money. I guess it’s a crapshoot – you can write whatever you dream up and hope that your money covers it, or you can write knowing your limitations and thus restricting your imagination (and most likely end up with a lousy script to boot). Buechler and co. clearly chose the former, though the script could have used some work as well.
At least the cast is good. In addition to Todd as the title character(s), you get Tim Thomerson (in a far too brief role) and Carpenter regular Peter Jason as two of the many cops who populate the film. Unfortunately, Tracy Scoggins is wasted here. Not because she’s a good actress, because she’s actually not very good at all, but she’s usually smoking hot (see: Otis, for absolutely no other reason) and thus provides necessary visual flair. But the makeup person botches this notion by giving her truly hideous and unflattering eyeshadow that makes her resemble Amy Winehouse, one of the most hideously ugly and horrible women to ever defile the planet. Also: VERNON WELLS. Anyone well versed in 80s action cinema has to appreciate a movie that gives him a sizable role.
And Buechler provides many a nice touch I appreciated. For example, in the film’s first kill scene, we get the standard POV shot of Mr. Hyde stalking the girl. Usually this is followed by a shot of the girl spinning around and seeing nothing, and THAT is usually followed by me yelling “How the fuck did he get out of her line of vision so fast?!?!?” Well here, we actually see the POV shot suddenly jerk to the left as Hyde makes his way behind a corner. Why he is hiding makes no sense, but it’s a good idea nonetheless.
I also particularly liked how silly the movie got at the end, as Hyde suddenly transforms into a monkey man. This means that we get alternating shots of Todd wearing a ridiculous ape mask, or a CG head is badly mapped to the actor’s body. Either way, you have a giant monkey running around all of a sudden, and that is awesome.
Sadly the CG is terrible here and in the other scenes it is used. It’s sparse, to be fair, but uniformly bad nonetheless. That, along with not very good digital video and the editor’s strange habit of badly zooming in on shots (resulting in blurry/grainy footage that doesn’t match anything else in the sequence) gives the film a very cheap feel, and while it’s not likely they had much to begin with, these type of things make it feel even cheaper than it probably was, which is a shame.
Garfield’s score is also pretty good, if a bit overbearing at times. It’s almost like they forgot to tell him that the movie had no money, so his sweeping, big orchestra-sounding score feels a bit off when played during a scene that looks like it cost 12 cents. Still, it has a very classic horror feel that is appropriate given the subject matter. I was a bit disappointed that the film had no musical numbers, given that Buechler IS the director of Troll, a film with one of the most deliriously hilarious musical numbers in film history.
Having never read the source material, I don’t know if some of the dialogue is taken directly from it, but either way, there are lines that don’t quite fit right with the rest of the film. It’s mostly kinda hokey and fun, but every now and then (especially in the final 10 minutes or so), Buechler gives Todd and a few others some lines that sound like quotes from “Philosophy for Dummies” instead of from the script they have been following for the bulk of the film. Still, Todd gives it his all, and provides more proof that he should have had a more successful career in Hollywood. He got a few meaty roles in the 90s (like in The Rock) but nowadays he’s mostly stuck in stuff like this. He’s not exactly Oscar caliber, but he’s definitely a presence, and it’s nice to see him get to have some fun with a dual role.
I dunno, worth a look on a lazy Sunday I guess. Could have been better, but everyone makes do with what they have. I've seen far worse, but sometimes mediocre is less desirable - it's only been a few hours and I'm already forgetting most of the movie
What say you?